Italy: Pope Francis to break bread with Rome’s refugees

10 September 2013

Pope Francis speaks to a crowd of 100,000 during a vigil for peace in Syria in St. Peter's Square, Rome. Today he will make an official visit to the Centro Astalli (Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy) soup kitchen where approximately 400 asylum seekers and refugees regularly come for a hot meal (James Stapleton/JRS).

Rome, 10 September 2013– Responding to an invitation by the Director of Centro Astalli (Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy), Pope Francis will make an official visit to the JRS Italy soup kitchen on Via degli Astalli in Rome today.

At the end of the visit, which will be closed to the public, JRS Italy Director, Giovanni La Manna SJ, and the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Federico Lombardi SJ, will hold a press briefing outlining the salient aspects of the Pope’s visit. The briefing will be held in the Sala Assunta, 17 Via degli Astalli at 17.30. The JRS International Director, Peter Balleis SJ, and a number of refugee participants will also be present at the briefing.

Earlier in the afternoon, Pope Francis will meet refugees at JRS Italy during the normal operating hours of the JRS soup kitchen when approximately 400 asylum seekers and refugees come to the centre to receive a hot meal. He will greet the refugees and personally meet with a few.

The Pope will be welcomed by the refugees living in the four JRS reception centres in Rome, those who study in the JRS Italian language school, beneficiaries of social, legal and health assistance projects, as well as JRS staff and volunteers.

Pope Francis will then visit the Chiesa del Gesù, a powerfully symbolic place for the Jesuit Refugee Service, where JRS founder, Fr Pedro Arrupe, is buried.

“It is a great joy for all of us to welcome the Pope among the refugees. His presence is a blessing”, said Fr La Manna.

Requests for accreditations for journalists should be made to Donatella Parisi, JRS Italy Press Officer at 06 69925099 –